Em Shotwell’s Murphey sisters have been called unlikable, but despite that (or perhaps because of it) some readers love them. So we asked Em to share her thoughts on unlikable characters in this guest post.

Unlikable Characters

Em Shotwell

I like unlikable characters. And though I hate the term itself, I especially like unlikable female characters. I should—I have written enough of them. And most of the time, I didn’t even realize it until someone else pointed it out to me, usually once the book was finished.

Cheyanne, Marchland, and Bradley Murphey, the witches in These Hollow Hearts, have been deemed unlikable. However, I think they are flawed women who are angry, and who have the power to do something about it, until things spiral out of their control. (Did I mention they are witches? Literally…)

In honor of the release of my angry-witchy-women, here is a list of my top three books featuring unlikable female characters.


Blurb: Meet the women of American Housewife. They wear lipstick, pearls, and sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy. They casserole. They pinwheel. And then they kill a party crasher, carefully stepping around the body to pull cookies from the oven.

This is a collection of short stories by an author I love. Each one features another woman who will either leave your cackling or cringing.  Author Helen Ellis also has another book titled EATING THE CHESHIRE CAT which features a trio of snarky, mean, college girls and their crazy mamas. (It has one of the most memorable opening scenes ever.)


2) GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn

Blurb: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

There is NO WAY around it. Amy Dunne is terrible. TERRIBLE. Honestly, I don’t think there is a likable character in this entire book. Maybe that is why I binge read it with dried out, sleep deprived eyes as I always needed just one more chapter… There are no redeeming qualities to Amy or Nick, IMHO. They are just bad bad bad…and that is why reading them is so, so good.


1) WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte

Blurb: Perhaps the most haunting and tormented love story ever written, Wuthering Heights is the tale of the troubled orphan Heathcliff and his doomed love for Catherine Earnshaw.

If there has ever been a blurb that doesn’t do a book justice, it is the one above. Wuthering Heights is a love story, but not in the way you think. Catherine and Heathcliff love each other, but they also are terrible to each other. This is the story of a toxic relationship—full stop. Catherine mistreats Heathcliff and then Heathcliff turns into a monster. It is a story of revenge and ruin. Did I mention that it is also my favorite book? I don’t know why, but I have loved Wuthering Heights since I read it for the first time in high school.

These are my favorites, what are yours?

About Em Shotwell:

Mama. Wife. Wonder Woman. Author of the Blackbird Summer series, Murphey Family Saga, & nefarious Womens Fiction. Lover of food, music, & sarcasm. Always dreaming.
Visit me at www.EmShotwell.com

Or let’s be friends on facebook: Facebook.com/EmShotwellauthor




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